The University of Dallas men’s basketball team’s shared passion for the sport of basketball has created an unbreakable bond between each of the members while simultaneously fueling their determination to perform well. They all work hard and play even harder.
You will find the basketball guys in the training room before practice everyday. They are rambunctious and loud, joking and hanging out with each other. Their conversations span anywhere from academics and improvements they can make as individuals to the all important question of whether or not a dog is considered a girl dog if it wears a pink collar.
They laugh, they fight, they banter, but not for a second will an outside observer doubt the deep friendship they share with each other.
In an interview, sophomore Louis Christifano Jr. describes basketball as an escape. “For me it’s the one place where I can go and not really think about anything, not really worry about anything and it’s just really freeing,” he said.
The men’s basketball team emulates the catch phrase “ball is life.” They do strength and conditioning three times a week on top of their regular everyday two hour practices. Most of the members clock in extra time outside of the requirement because they are hyper focused on improving.
During the pandemic pause last year, most of the players stated that they continued to practice.
Blake Dwyer, a junior, did not let COVID-19 stop him from upping his game. “I didn’t really change anything like my regimen didn’t change at all. I still trained with my trainer four to five times a week and I was able to get in the gym when I wanted to, of course following the COVID guidelines that were in place at the time,” he said.
This spirit of perseverance is evident the second the team steps onto a court. They have a quiet determination and are resilient. But what is the driving force that keeps these men so focused?
Cameran Hyde, a senior and one of the basketball team captains, answers that question, emphasizing: “Accountability. Holding everyone up to the same standard that I would hold myself and at the same time not letting them drop down so we can all be on the same page”.
When asked what about basketball made him love it, Cameran Hyde said, “It’s a release.”
Matt Holloway, a junior, added to that saying: “I think the team aspect. There’s different parts of the game that have individual skill and then other parts of the game where you can’t really do anything without your teammates”.
Each player looks forward to something different this season. Many are excited to see the fruits of their labor. Others are just happy that things are returning to normal.
Blake looks forward to the rush that comes with game day, “The environment that surrounds basketball game day is built around looking forward to stepping on the court and seeing all the fans that have come to watch us play”.
Aaron Pizaña, a freshman, said: “I’m looking forward to connecting with the guys more. I’m really excited to play at the next level and all these guys are great.”
Philip Ashton III, a graduate student, is most excited by the promise this upcoming season holds. “We got a lot of young talent. We had some really good freshmen come in last year,” he said. “They know what it takes to succeed, they work hard and it means good things for the program, so I’m really excited to see what happens.”
Their first home game this season is Nov. 27 against Hendrix College. The student body should support our basketball program as they endeavor to rack up wins this season. Come out and cheer on your UD Crusaders!